Image Credit & Copyright: ULA of the OCO-2 Delta II 7320 launch vehicle. Look below for mission and rocket information as well as relevant links to include live stream.
LAUNCH ALERT: Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 06:20 PST (09:20 EST & 14:20 UTC) a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II 7320-10 Rocket (Delta 370) will launch the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite from Space Launch Complex-02 (SLC-02 or SLICK-02) at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), California.
This is ULA’s 2nd of 13 scheduled flights in 2015, the 153rd launch of the legendary Delta II and the 52nd launch of the Delta II rocket for NASA.
The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite will provide the most accurate, highest-resolution global measurements of soil moisture ever obtained from space and will detect whether the ground is frozen or thawed. The data will be used to enhance scientists’ understanding of the processes that link Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles.
DELTA II in history: The Delta rocket family traces its roots back to the Thor-Delta series that NASA used from May 1960 with the Echo 1 & 1A balloon satellites to the early 1980s. Production was ceased at Delta 183 with the rollout of the Space Transportation System (STS) aka; the space shuttle program. However after the STS-51-L Challenger disaster in 1986 production was restarted and on Valentine’s Day, 1989 the first Delta II (Delta 184 & USA-35) delivered GPS 14 into orbit from Space Launch Complex-17A (SLC-17A) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS).
With the launch of Delta 357 carrying the Suomi NPP satellite from Space Launch Complex-2 (SLC-2) at Vandenberg AFB, CA on October 28, 2011 the Delta II program was, for all intents and purposes, retired. The Pentagon & USAF pegged the Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles to deliver the next generation GPS satellites into orbit and with the up and coming commercial launch program the Delta II was phased out. The only caveat to that was the fact that they had already built five more Delta II launch vehicles for NASA.
On July 2, 2014 one of those five remaining Delta II rockets (Delta-367) was delivered into service as it launched NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO2) from Space Launch Complex-2 (SLC-2) at Vendenberg AFB, CA.
That brings us to next week’s launch of SMAP and the use of one of the final four Delta II rockets. There are also future plans for a Delta II to launch the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) in 2016 and another to launch Ice, Cloud & land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) in 2017.
What about that final Delta II rocket? You want my opinion; a legend like the Delta II deserves to be remembered and at least one preserved for future generations to come see. The last Delta II should be placed on display at the Kennedy Space Center Rocket Garden with the ceremony, appropriately on the day where it all began; Valentine’s Day. What better way to appreciate a launch system that we loved so……
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II-7000 Series rocket is a two or three-stage rocket that on average stands 39 m (128 ft.) with a diameter of 2.44 m (8 ft.) and consists of Extra-Extended Long Tank Thor first stage with an Aerojet-Rocketdyne RS-27A engine and an Aerojet-Rocketdyne AJ-10 Delta-K upper stage. The vehicle is available in many different configurations which are built specifically for each individual mission. Its remaining launch site is Vandenberg Air Force Base, Launch Complex-2 (LC-2). Performance to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for the 7000 series ranges from 1,870 kg (4,120 lb.) to 3,470 kg (7,640 lb.).
7320-10 DESIGNATION/CONFIGURATION SUMMARY:
7 = Denotes 7000 series with the RS-27A Main Engine.
3 = 3 Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM’s) Solid Rocket Boosters.
2 = Delta-K Second Stage with AJ-10 engine.
0 = 0 Third Stage
10 = 10 ft. diameter fairing.
MAIN PAYLOAD FAIRING (PLF): The Main Payload Fairing for the Delta II is a two-shell, 2.9 m (9.5 ft.) diameter, 8.5m (27.8 ft.) long fairing. There are also two optional variants of a 3 m (10 ft.) long fairing and is used to protect the spacecraft during its ascent through atmospheric turbulence and into space. Once safely out of Earth’s atmosphere (Or at least most of it), the fairing is pyrotechnically jettisoned.
DELTA-K SECOND STAGE: The Delta-K stage is 2.4 m (7.87 ft.) in diameter and 5.9 m (19.3 ft.) in length. It consists of a single hypergolic AJ-10-118K (AJ-10) Aerojet-Rocketdyne Engine that utilizes Aerozine-50 for propellant and Nitrogen Tetroxide (N204) as an oxidizer that produces 9,850 lb. of thrust with a burn time of up to 500 seconds to include multiple engine firings.
GRAPHITE EPOXY MOTOR (GEM-40) SOLID ROCKET BOOSTERS (SRB’s): Are produced by Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and have a diameter of 1 m (3.3 ft. or 40 in.) and a length of 13 m (42.5 ft.). The total number of GEM-40’s utilized is dependent on the individual mission and vary from 3 to 9. They are jettisoned after approximately 62 seconds of flight. There are also larger GEM-46 SRB’s available.
FIRST STAGE: The Delta first stage is an Extra-Extended Long Tank Thor at 26.5 m (87 ft.) in length by 2.4 m. (7.8 ft.) in diameter and is powered by a single Aerojet-Rocketdyne RS-27A engine that utilizes Rocket Propellant-1 (RP-1 or highly purified kerosene) as propellant and Liquid Oxygen (LOX) as the oxidizer. It provides 200,000 lb. of thrust at sea level and can burn for 261 seconds.
Watch LIVE: (Webcast begins at 04:00 PST or 07:00 EST or 12:00 UTC).
ULA Webcast: http://www.ulalaunch.com/webcast.aspx
Delta II/SMAP Mission Brochure: http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Mission_Booklets/DII/dii_smap_mob.pdf
UNITED LAUNCH ALLIANCE (ULA):
ULA homepage: http://www.ulalaunch.com/
Twitter for ULA CEO Tory Bruno: https://twitter.com/torybruno
DELTA II ROCKET:
Delta II rocket: http://www.ulalaunch.com/Products_DeltaII.aspx
Delta II Product Card: http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Launch_Vehicles/Delta_II_Product_Card.pdf
Delta II Payload Planning Guide: http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/DeltaIIPayloadPlannersGuide2007.pdf?bcsi_scan_df193da5ba4c5bc6=juxWwt+y4OiCN8IVsmjvm/DljcUEAAAAohdrFQ==&bcsi_scan_filename=DeltaIIPayloadPlannersGuide2007.pdf
MAJOR MILITARY/GOVERNMENT SPACE RESOURCES:
National Reconnaissance Office (NRO): http://www.nro.gov/
Patrick AFB (45th Space Wing) (Cape Canaveral): http://www.patrick.af.mil/
5th Space Launch Squadron (5th SLS):
Vandenberg AFB (30th Space Wing): http://www.vandenberg.af.mil/
4th Space Launch Squadron (4th SLS):
Air Force Space Command: http://www.afspc.af.mil/
Peterson AFB (21st Space Wing): http://www.peterson.af.mil/
Aerojet-Rocketdyne Homepage: http://www.rocket.com/